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The Best Outdoor Games For Kids

By Melissa Summers

As I mentioned before, my goal for the summer is a lot of old fashioned fun. I’m tired of buying into the idea that kids need to be involved in classes and camps and museum trips and carnivals all summer. Yesterday was the first day of Project Summer Won’t Suck For The Summers and it went….pretty terribly.

I saw this great list of 150+ easy and inexpensive things to do this summer with kids at Unpink Life and may very well staple it to my kid’s foreheads.

Another idea I had, as I watched six neighborhood kids sit around yesterday (the first day of summer vacation) “with nothing to do,” was a list of easy to play outdoor games. I’ve been looking around and have come up with 10 of my family’s favorite neighborhood outdoor games.

Best Outdoor Games For Kids1. Blob Tag
This is an excellent game, especially for a group of kids of various ages. The youngest child starts the game, the first person she tags, becomes part of the “blob” and go after the rest of the players.

Best Outdoor Games For Kids
2. Driveway Baseball
This game uses chalk to create a “baseball field”. Your balls are flat stones or beanbags that are tossed onto the chalk field. The rules are a little complex with this game so it may be easier for the five and up set.

3. Flashlight Tag
My kids love games with flashlights on those nights we stay out in the yard late talking to neighbors or friends. We’re also heading up north camping this summer and the flashlight games will be a big hit out in the dark camping grounds. You’re tagged if you’re “hit” by the flashlight’s beam.
Best Outdoor Games For Kids
4. Shark (or dinosaurs, or hawks and mice)
This game is simple and gets kids moving, which is important, yes even if you have a Wii. One child is the Shark, the other kids are fish. They’re “safe” while on beach towel or hula hoop “dens”. But when the Shark calls out, “Fishie, fishie, cross my ocean”, all the fish have to make it to another den without getting tagged. If you’re tagged you’re a shark too. The game’s over when there are no fish left.

5. Cold Potato
A full water balloon with a small leak is passed around from kid to kid, the goal is to not be the one holding the leaky balloon when it’s totally emptied.

6. Musical Sprinklers
Kids dance and keep moving while the sprinkler’s on. One kid is in charge of turning it on and off.

7. Red Light, Green Light
The classic game. I put it on my list, because it’s amazing the simple games we forget to teach our kids, thinking they’ll instinctively know it.

8. Octopus Tag
In this game one player is the Octopus who calls all the other players to cross his ocean. If they’re tagged, they become seaweed who remain stationary but try to tag the fish passing by.
Best Outdoor Games For Kids
9. Elbow Tag
One kid is it, the other is chased and everyone pairs off (if you have an odd number of players, make a team of three linked arms) linking elbows. The chased person can seek safety by linking onto a pair of linked kids, forcing the kid at the opposite end off the link to be chased.

10. Obsta-Cool Course
This game will take some creativity on your part and your kids. You’ll need water, buckets, water balloons and squirt guns that are all laid out in an obstacle course. Perfect for a hot day when that one friend who’s got a pool is on vacation so you’re stuck in your own backyard.

Related Articles:
More Outdoor Games for Kids
Best Children’s Outdoor Toys
Summer Fun For Kids: Five Goals For My Kid’s Summer Break


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The Best Outdoor Games For Kids

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • TN

    Another fun game involves water balloons and at least 2 kids. The kids toss the water balloon to each other and after each successful catch they each take a step backwards. The fun begins when they are far enough apart and make that mad dash to save the balloon from landing on the ground and it ends up exploding in their hands instead.
    Also, water balloon relay. Have at least 2 teams. The kids have to balance a water balloon on a serving spoon and walk the distance, (you decide from age)and they have to pass it to the kid waiting with their spoon at the opposite end and that kid walks to the other end. The kids are not allowed to touch the balloon with their hands while passing it. This game works best on pavement.
    We do these games at summer camp and the kids love it.

  • Back in the day I was a summer camp counselor and we played Elbow Tag a lot (called it Triangle Tag, I don’t know why!) to fill time in between other activities. It is really fun if you get a big group together and have multiple sets of tagger/taggies, maybe adding another one every few minutes.
    If you can find directions another easy game is infinity tag, and it will have the kids practically ready to run a marathon after playing for a few times.
    Oh and SPUD was a great game we played as kids too!

  • Cole

    This is great, thanks for posting it. I’m working at a VBS this week and we are having a hard time coming up with games for the various age groups.

  • Karen

    Oh this is great! I have my 7 year old son’s birthday party coming up in a couple weeks and I refuse to play in to the pressure and am kickin’ it old school.

  • vanessa

    Red Rover!